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Trayvon Martin Shooting Death Used in “Stand Your Ground” Bill Debates

Posted: Friday, March 30th, 2012 at 6:23 am
Author: KCII News - Brad Gaspelin

As previously reported by KCII, the controversial “Stand Your Ground” Bill has passed the Iowa House. It’s also been called “Castle Doctrine Extension” because the bill expands on a current Iowa Law that allows a person to defend themselves in their home, business, or place of employment. This new bill, House File 2215, would extend that to any place a person is legally allowed to be at, including public places. The Senate is debating the bill this week, and some lawmakers are using the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida where this “Stand Your Ground” Bill originated in their arguments.

Lawmakers in support of the bill say the young man’s death should not be used as political theater. This new bill provides immunity from criminal and civil prosecution for anyone who uses reasonable force, even deadly force, against an attack on themselves or their property. Our area Representative, Jarad Klein, co-sponsored to bill.

He says this Bill also takes away the requirement to retreat before defending oneself. Currently, Iowa law says that if you are not in your home or place of business, you have to retreat from an attacker before using force against them. In his weekly newsletter, On the Hill, Klein cites a case where a man was charged after shooting another person in self defense.

While in jail for over 100 days awaiting trial, he lost his job and all of his possessions before being found innocent. With this bill, police would not arrest someone as long as there was reason to believe it was done in self defense, although the police would still conduct an investigation.

County Attorney Larry Brock says granting immunity for something is unprecedented in Iowa Law. He says the law doesn’t make it clear what would constitute this immunity. The bill does say “A person who reasonable believes that a violent felony is being… perpetrated is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force against the perpetrator…”.

Klein says, “ a 250, 300 pound guy coming at a 150 pound woman, that’s a reasonable threat.” But Brock says the wording in the bill doesn’t make it clear what constitutes a reasonable threat.